How to Fix a Flickering Light Bulb

Close-Up Of Illuminated Light Bulb In Room
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Flickering light bulbs are a common problem. Fortunately, addressing this issue is simple. Here’s a quick look at how you can fix flickering bulbs around your home.

What Causes Flickering?

Flickering is a simple drop in voltage that causes your lights to dim. A variety of around-the-house issues can cause your lights to flicker. Here’s a quick look at some of the common culprits and how to fix them:

  • Bulb type. Fluorescent lights are more prone to flickering than LED and other bulb types. Temperature, bulb age and warm-up cycles are common causes of fluorescent flickering. Small amounts of flickering aren’t a cause for concern. Replace your fluorescent bulb to address severe flickering or dimming.
  • Dimmer switches are a common source of flickering with LED bulbs. Most dimmers are manufactured for higher electrical loads. As a result, low-voltage LEDs can flicker and dim on high-powered dimmer switches. It’s a good idea to check the bulb compatibility of your dimmer before purchasing new bulbs.
  • Loose bulbs. Unseated bulbs rattle in their sockets, resulting in inconsistent connections and regular flickering. Tightening the bulb will ensure a solid connection and eliminate any dips in current.
  • Faulty connections. A bad connection in your lamp or fixture’s on-off switch can result in flickering. Troubleshoot the connections by wiggling the on-off switch. If your lights dim, you have a bad switch. Replacing switches can be difficult. Call a professional if you’re unsure how to tackle this project. Plugs can also cause bad connections. Pull the plug out and straighten the prongs. Sometimes, bent or damaged prongs can create a bad connection.
  • Large current draws. Larger appliances can pull 100 or more amps when cycling on. This surge in power can cause your lights to dim and flicker. Call an electrician to ensure your appliances are wired correctly and aren’t overworking your home’s circuit.

Problematic Flickering

Flickering lights are normally not cause for alarm.

But sometimes they can indicate a more serious problem. Constant or severe drops in lighting can result from loose connections. Faulty wiring connections create points of high resistance, which can generate unsafe levels of heat. Old breakers can also cause flickering. Similar to your home’s electrical systems, the wiring in your breakers can go bad over time. Faulty breaker wiring can short and overheat, which can cause flickering. Always call a pro to address these problems.

Installing a New Fixture

Old or damaged fixtures can cause a variety of problems, including flickering. Here’s how to install a new fixture in your home:

  • Step 1. Turn off the power. Locate your breaker box and turn off the breaker that controls the power to the room where you’ll be working. Turn off your power main if you’re unsure which breaker controls your room.
  • Step 2. Remove the fixture. Remove the fixture cover to reveal the set screws. Loosen the set screws to remove the fixture’s trim. After the trim is gone, disconnect and untwist the wires from the old fixture. This should expose the electrical box.
  • Step 3. Check the electrical box screws. Ensure the screws holding your electrical box in place are tight enough to support your new fixture.
  • Step 4. Connect the wires. Always match the black (hot), white (neutral) and ground wires together. Ground wires are usually bare copper or green. Some fixtures contain a grounding screw instead of a wire. If your electrical box has a ground wire, connect it to the screw. Most grounding screws are green.
  • Step 5. Secure the base. Fold the wires into the electrical box and push the fixture toward the ceiling. Attach the fixture to the ceiling.
  • Step 6. Install the light bulbs. Screw in the light bulbs and install the globe or glass cover.
  • Step 7. Power on. Flip the breaker to restore power to your work space.

Installing basic light fixtures is a simple job. But updating large or ornate models isn’t always a DIY-able job. Call a pro if you’re unsure about tackling this project yourself.